Do coaches use analytics?

Math

Not all coaches are the same. Some value analytics more than others, but I’ve always wondered how much or little coaches use analytics.

The game is fast. It features numerous unscripted and unplanned events. Some coaches will look for matchups as often as possible, while others will only do so when it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game or their bench management, and having last change will impact their lineup decisions even more.

I’ve long believed hockey is such a fast game with so many uncontrolled situations that it is very difficult to look at one specific analytic stat, or even multiple ones, to extract the exact value of a player, but I wanted to ask a coach who could give an honest answer without worrying about it impacting his team.

Coaches are always looking for an advantage and often they won’t give us the real answer when asking about specific matchups or players. I understand why the do this, and that’s why I asked a former NHL head coach his views on analytics.

Adam Oates is a regular on my show every Tuesday. We discuss a variety of topics and last week I asked him a few about analytics.

Gregor: When you
were a coach, how did you view analytics and how did you use them?

Oates: It’s suddenly become the
rage. There are some good parts of it, and there are some bad parts of it. It
is data, and unfortunately I think that data should have been private for the
general managers and for the scouts in terms of how they measure guys, and it
became public, which I think is wrong.

As a coach,
there is not one second of the game where you don’t have your own internal
analytics going on. You’re changing lines, you’re watching the play, you’re
watching flows, and you’re watching guys, thinking, ‘Who’s having a tough
night, who is not?’ Y
ou know which line is up next and you want to give
this line a shift, but all of a sudden there is a face-off in your end, and you
change your mind because the face-off is to the right of the goalie instead of
the left. You put your guys on, but you’re not sure who he’s going to put on. Your
mind is constantly going. And it’s all the stuff that we’ve talked about.

What people
don’t realize is that sometimes you have a guy with a seven year contract.
He’s playing. He may be having an off night, but he’s playing. These are all
things that you factor in as a coach. That’s why I think some of these things
should be private. A guy might have good CORSI number, but there are
extenuating circumstances that lead into that.

There’s a
pressure with that, and players talk about it. One thing I don’t like
personally is when a guy is coming down the ice and gets it to the right winger
for example, the winger skates in and he’s taking wrister into the goalie. Okay,
it’s a shot on net, but I think that shot is awful. There’s not a goalie in
this world that’s letting that in, or else he’s getting demoted. You just give
the goalie the puck that he freezes. You may have been the first line out there
against a tired third line. You never know, right? Now you give them a chance
to get the matchup they want. How do you factor that into a CORSI rating?

**Coaches are very protective of information getting out as you can see in Oates first response. But I do agree with him that some players are influenced by the data that is out there. Some coaches are as well, and when an active coach starts discussing his individual player’s Corsi it can have more negative impact than positive.***

Gregor: How do you incorporate things that can’t be tracked by data, like
emotion, as a coach?

Oates: Coaches don’t really
believe in Corsi. We have to talk about it, but we don’t believe in it for individuals. We have our own
internal thing going on for exactly what you just said. There are subjects that
don’t show up that we can’t bring up to the media. I met with a player a couple of
weeks ago, and I showed him a face-off where he lost the draw at his own blue
line, and because he lost it, they dumped it in and he spent forty seconds in
his own end and the other team had five shot attempts. The next time he got on the ice, it was in the offensive zone, he
won the face-off and they scored within two seconds.

Two totally separate entities. Because you lost
the draw the team spent forty seconds in your own end. You won a draw, and got
an assist in two seconds, but your Corsi will be worse because of shot attempts despite you helping in scoring a goal.There are so many crazy little things that go on,
you have to think of the big picture. It’s a little bit like plus-minus. That used to
be the old version of it. But it’s tough, because the data is important, but
you have to keep it in perspective is the best way to put it.

***To clarify, Oates did mention coaches look at team Corsi as a much better indicator than individual Corsi. Some players can have a less favourable Corsi because of matchups and zone starts, but team Corsi will give a coach a better overall view of his team.**

Gregor: What was one thing you
didn’t want to discuss when you were coaching because you felt like people
would twist the words, or wouldn’t understand the importance of it?

Oates: There
would be a guy with a good Corsi rating, and what some wouldn’t notice is that I would
never let him take a draw in his own end. Ever. He was new to the position, and
I didn’t want to put him a position where he could fail. Anytime the face-off
was in the other teams end, he could go. That would never be factored into the
Corsi rating. Ever. It is why I believe you can never look at one rating to
evaluate a player. You have to combine all of them, and you still have to
factor in the feel of the game, matchups and what you see on the ice. At the very least you’d have to combine his zone starts and even look at where he took his faceoffs.

Gregor: Possession is discussed a lot in hockey. Can you coach it?

Oates: I’ll
give you the best example. We all talk about possession and how we want
possession, yet every single team in this league — with a face-off in their own
end — they will design a play so if they win the draw the defensemen shoots the
puck off the glass and out, and they try to get into a foot race for the puck.

It is hard to
beat five guys from an organized position. So you win the draw, but those five
guys are organized, so your defensemen goes behind the net and he’s got
pressure on him. It’s hard to come up the ice. Yet we talk about how we want
possession. Well, you have possession, yet you’re giving it away. Every single
team in the league does this. Sometimes the number is skewed because it’s hard
to beat five guys when they are standing right in front of you, so sometimes we
give them the puck and play a little counter attack. 

Wrap up…

I like to hear various people’s thoughts on different hockey topics. We all have our opinions on players, teams and certain statistics. We will agree on some and disagree on others. For me, it is interesting hearing from someone still involved at the NHL level and what he sees/believes.

Quick Tip…

StickSize

Oates is an individual skills coach for many NHL players. He works with Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Mark Scheifele, Teddy Purcell, Matt Hendricks and many others. He is a strong believer in using the proper stick.

He is adamant that many players are using the wrong stick, whether it is too long, they have the wrong curve, incorrect lie or the wrong flex. After speaking to many NHL players about their stick, I tend to agree with Oates. Most of us were never measured/fitted properly for a stick.

Think about it. When we were kids, our dad, or mom, would have us stand up and the stick was cut off somewhere between our chin and chest. It was not an exact science. Most of us never knew what lie the stick had — was it a five or a six?

Oates recommended less curve for kids because they can handle the puck better, but the most important factor is to have the proper length and lie.

I asked him for any tips on how to fit your child’s hockey stick.

“It is not easy, it really isn’t,” said Oates. First off when you go to the store your son or daughter is not in their skates so you are eyeballing it based on them standing on their tiptoes.

“Nowadays everyone uses the a composite stick. The composite stick has made everyone shoot it harder, but one of the things I think it has hurt is people haven’t focused as much on their backhand. Our generation grew up with wood sticks and we played on the street or in ball hockey, and most could move it on their forehand and backhand. Nowadays very few kids can handle the puck on their backhand effectively.

“My best way to measure a stick is this: Take your son or daughter to the store, put a puck in front of them and make them go to their backhand with the puck. Do they lose their balance? If he loses his balance, if his head goes down, then something is probably wrong with the lie. His head can’t go down, because that creates blind spots on the ice. You want to be able to go forehand, backhand under control.

“A great example is Patrick Kane on a shootout. He comes in, slows down and goes backhand to forehand ten times to freeze the goalie. It requires skill, or course, but also the ability to go from his forehand to backhand and back to his forehand without losing his balance or posture. He doesn’t have to put head down, because he has the right lie, and subsequently the correct posture, and that enables him to keep his head up. That is the kind of look you want in the store. Can your son or daughter do that controlling the puck? You need to look at their posture and head positioning,” Oates explained.

He also said in an ideal world you should bring their skates to the store and have your child handle the stick and puck while wearing their skates. He also mentioned this is just one technique, and there are other factors, but if your child has a properly fitted stick it will improve their ability to handle the puck, but it will not automatically make them as adept as Patrick Kane. 

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  • TKB2677

    I think there is a place for analytics but I don’t think they tell the whole story about a team or player and shouldn’t be the only thing that governs. I think that analytics guys believe in them WAY too much.

    Case in point. After last Saturday’s game, Matt Henderson who’s a huge Yakupov and thinks he can do no wrong tweeted that Yak had a 60% CF rating. Yak’s games stats were -1, no shots, no points, no hits. So according to a believer in analytics, Yak had a good games, by the stats he did nothing. I tend to believe if you have zeros across the board, you didn’t contribute a thing.

    • Jay (not J)

      I don’t disagree with you, but I feel I should point out that you just referenced different stats to prove he had a bad game. So obviously you are cool with some stats more than others.

      Again, I think you have a fair point, but a lot of corsi haters say things like this and how they hate stats nerds, and then talk about the virtues of avoiding turnovers and blocking shots (different stats, but stats nonetheless).

  • mithaman

    I’ve said it on these comments section a million times that Corsi is a flawed stat for measuring individual players and I love the examples that Oates pointed out.

    Great article Gregs.

    • Jay (not J)

      From the sounds of Oates’ examples, I am not sure he understands analytics much. Analytics don’t apply to individual events, they are a measure of trends.

      The real question should be, how many times is that player on the ice taking face offs that lead to his team running around getting shelled? Is this above the team norm, or below it? How often is the team scoring off his offensive draws, or getting good scoring chances? Is this above or below team norms? Do the results change if the centre is out there with different wingers? Different defensive pairs?

      Then you use the individual events to see what the player could be doing differently, if something needs to change.

      • '68 Fire Chicken

        Without an in-depth evaluation of the stats you can make some faulty conclusions. That’s all I read in Oates’ comments. You shouldn’t just look at raw Corsi numbers without considering quality of shots. Don’t look at Corsi numbers without also considering zone starts.

        There wasn’t a ton of space for him to critique FO%, controlled zone entries, etc.

  • S cottV

    I wouldn’t mind a quick briefing from an analytics eye in the sky specialists, after each period and after a game.

    You would want to know what particularly stood out (as a team / with individuals)and whether or not there were any anomalies that skewed what the numbers looked like.

    Useful if kept in perspective.

  • “Oates: It’s suddenly become the rage. There are some good parts of it, and there are some bad parts of it. It is data, and unfortunately I think that data should have been private for the general managers and for the scouts in terms of how they measure guys, and it became public, which I think is wrong.”

    lol Information that shows people the sh*tty job I did shouldn’t be made public.

  • BDH

    The thing about analytics is its a lot like physics. You can have an apple fall on your head, and think you know a lot about gravity, but that doesn’t mean you understand complicated matters like how light is affected by gravity in a black hole. A lot of people have an extremely basic understanding of the concepts but this can be seriously complicated stuff that even experienced hockey people need simplified for them by analytic experts.

    Oates shows this when he says “There would be a guy with a good Corsi rating, and what some wouldn’t notice is that I would never let him take a draw in his own end.” Some people just looking at his Corsi might not notice, but only an idiot looks at Corsi without also looking at zone starts, With Or Without You stats, quality of competition, quality of line mates, score effects and more.

    I used to be completely against a lot of analytics, but the more I tried to understand them, the more I saw value. But I also saw how complicated it was and I know I will never have as good a grasp on it as the experts. And whats worse is when people who are anything but an expert use analytics incorrectly and confuse beginners, or give ammunition to the Glen Healy’s and Steve Simmons of the world. Guys like Lowetide on his site talk about a players Corsi over one game, which is beyond ridiculous.

    • Jason Gregor

      I think you missed his point. He clearly explained you shouldn’t just look at Corsi, but the fact is many do, and even some players. Unsure why you claim he doesn’t know how it is used and needs it explained.

          • BDH

            Look, Jason, I know how super sensitive you are about your articles, but try some reading comprehension before you get all defensive.

            I made a point about how a lot of people don’t understand anaylytics well enough, and that the large majority of us and even experienced hockey men, have trouble understanding everything as well as the experts do. Then to further state this point, I used a quote from Oates where he shows an example of where people have misunderstood an analytic stat. Then I further explained some of the how and why that stat gets misunderstood.

            At no point did I say Oates specifically does not understand anything. However, his expertise is in playing and coaching. Can he benefit from an actual expert in the field? of course he could, just like you or I. That’s why every team has an analytic guru on staff. Acording to your logic, that now automatically means that every team’s coach needs Corsi explained to them.

            Another example is Mark Fayne, and how some people called him an analytics darling when he was in NJ. I wish I had the link to an analytics article I read last year that was quite critical of his play there. In that article the author made a detailed case of how on the surface, his analytics stats looked good, but then presented an extremely detailed case for why they actually weren’t when you looked deeper.

          • BDH

            Thanks AC88.

            Good read. I’m pretty sure the one I was referring to was written by a NJ blogger and done either at the time Fayne was there or shortly after he signed with Edmonton.

          • Jay (not J)

            Thanks for linking to my article. I figured that was what BDH was referring to.

            In evaluating players, it always–no analytics person would tell you otherwise–takes a bunch of measures. Then you try to figure if the measure are telling a consistent story. If not, why not? That’s where the fun…I mean, reason speculation starts.

            Assessing the average defenseman is still very much a challenge. G. Money (oilersnerdalert.com), I think, is doing good work here with is Dangerous Fenwick metric. But in the end, a thorough analysis is always to require multiple measures.

            I’ve read a few articles on how Chicago & Stan Bowman uses analytics. They use it a lot, which includes collecting much more data than what the NHL provides. According to the articles, Quenneville does not communicate the numbers to the players.

          • Jason Gregor

            Not sure how asking you why you think something is sensitive.

            Here is what you wrote…

            “A lot of people have an extremely basic understanding of the concepts but this can be seriously complicated stuff that even experienced hockey people need simplified for them by analytic experts.

            Oates shows this when he says “There would be a guy with a good Corsi rating, and what some wouldn’t notice is that I would never let him take a draw in his own end.”

            You wrote experienced hockey people need it simplified. Then next sentence said Oates shows this.

            You might have meant something else, but the phrasing of your words make it read that you are suggesting Oates needs it simplified for him. That is all.

          • BDH

            You don’t have an actual English background do you? When linking back to previous statements, a sentence in a paragraph refers to the previous sentence. A sentence that starts a new paragraph and links back to a previous idea indicates that the link refers back to the entire previous paragraph.

            So, when I saw that “Oates shows this when…”, I’m referencing “The thing about analytics is its a lot like physics. You can have an apple fall on your head, and think you know a lot about gravity, but that doesn’t mean you understand complicated matters like how light is affected by gravity in a black hole.”, more so than making a direct statement about Oates as a person who could use something simplified.

            In addition, needing something that is extremely complicated simplified by an expert is hardly the same thing as, in your words, “he doesn’t know how it is used and needs it explained”

            This is how you are super sensitive: I already clarified my actual intent, and yet you still wished to argue and claim I’m ranting and raving. Hopefully, explaining how my comments were correct from the perspective of the English language settles you down a bit.

          • MorningOwl

            This is hilarious. Pulls out the Engligh background card and then tries to explain his ill-planned out post….hahaha

            I don’t see Gregor arguing anywhere. He aksed a question then answered your question and never once resorted to a lame personal attack like you have multiple times.

            Get over yourself. You think because you suddenly understand analytics that you are the be-all-know-all.

            The only one who needs settling down is you. Come down from your English high horse.

          • Jason Gregor

            Thanks for the English background rant. I might take it more seriously if your posts contained no grammatical errors. Do they only teach linking back to previous ideas in that course?

          • BDH

            Hey, you could be right about that. Sitting at the doctors office typing on my phone, I could be butchering my grammar right now. Doesn’t change the fact that you were wrong, I tried to explain things further, and you’re still crying about your own misinterpretation.

            Suuuper Sensitive.

          • AJ88

            It would be interesting to know why you are suuuuper sensitive over this article. Oates has an opinion on Analytics and you seem to be taking this personally. I am not a huge analytics supporter, too many variables, but I can see it being used as a tool as long it does not become a detriment to team/player development. Maybe I am getting older but old style, less complicated hockey systems with less analyzing seemed more entertaining and less stressful than it is nowadays.

          • BDH

            Hey, I said that advanced stats are great but often misunderstood because there are so many variables, and suggested that even experienced hockey people need experts to go through the information. I used a quote from Oates that reinforced this.

            I’ll summarize my opinion in a different way.

            1. Advanced stats are interesting
            2. Advanced stats are complicated and have a ton of variables.
            3. Even experienced hockey people could benefit from an expert sifting through all that information

            I’ll add another opinion. I doubt coaches care about a lot of advanced stats, especially during the season. They are probably a better tool for GM’s trying to evaluate players and even then its probably more useful for the bottom half of the roster and finding effective players on cheap contracts.

            No one is looking at McDavid’s corsi.

          • Seanaconda

            You just summarized what Oates and Gregor said in the article. Yet found time in between to complain and then try and show off your alleged English skills. What a perfect Troll.

          • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

            Jason, you used the term, “role the lines,” just last week. When I pointed it out first comment, you deleted my comment then went on to edit your article with the proper, “roll the lines.”
            You are now in any position to critique grammar.

          • Danglishish

            The way you wrote it, to me clearly implied you were talking about Oates. Ill also bet a lot of other readers did as well. So,you wrote something that only an individual with an English background would likely interpret correctly (at least in your opinion), and are now complaining about it. Priceless.

      • AJ88

        Coaches don’t really believe in Corsi. We have to talk about it, but we don’t believe in it for individuals.

        FULL STOP.

        I believed you missed his point, and refuse to aknowledge the Corsi illusion BS is OVER….lol….the Corsi myth is useless dross.

        Corsi has been run out of Dodge…..let it go along with the rest of the advanced stats con-job sales-pitches being spitballed around still…barely surviving held together by a dwindeling band of online die-hard conspirators….LMAO.

        • .

          Oates does bring up valid points regarding equipment selection as well. The single perfect stick does not exist. Instead it is a selection of weighted priorities. Is a booming slapper a higher priority than a deceptive wrister? Is receiving a breakout pass in full stride more important than being able to stickhandle through traffic?

          After making stick selections, don’t forget about the radius of hollow, gloves and padding selections. Even after all those adjustments, then there’s ways of deception such as stick color selection, stick tape, and gear changes during the game.

          • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

            Oates does bring up some relevant points albeit a DECADE after the NHS was sucessfully
            teaching the same things to the Oilers and entire NHL online.The NHS and its peripheral impacts IDA and IDM were validated and documented forever as NHL LEVEL TOOLS in 2009 by Pat Quinn and the Oilers…this fact cannot be ignored.

            Corsi is a myth.It is simply a novel way of viewing traditional stats….statistics are numerical representations of the end product or past results of dynamic actions,these number or symbologies can by proxy never be used to define causaliy of dynamic actions nor to initiate causality of dynamic actions. There is ZERO anticipatory or progressive tactical or structural application for numerical symbology related to PAST events POSITIVE or negative.The constellation of dynamic inputs and outputs which define the end products of a 60 minute hockey game are unique every time and are to volumous to allow for numerical or statistical anticipatory interpretation or management…. this is an inescapable fact.

            Corsi is terribly misunderstood /mis-applied because it is like a 1/2 grown fetus….something beautifull was born in concept then it became twisted and warped in utero and was stunted.

            In 2006-2007 the things Oates is selling on every level were available online and already being taught to the Oilers and other online by Moma2 using IDA and IDM ,in 2009 Pat Quinn officially utilised Moma2s NewAge Hockey System IN THE NHL WITH THE EDMONTON OILERS,this is a proven documented FACT,which no one including Gregor or ON mods can change or alter.Mr Quinns INTENTIONAL AND PURPOSEFULL ACTIONS OF AKNOWLEDGEMENT AND APPLICATION WERE NOT RANDOM and ensured there WOULD NEVER BE SUPPRESSION BECAUSE HE WAS AWARE THAT IT WAS ALREADY HAPPENING,online in 2009.

            The NHS or NewAge Hockey System was adopted by Sutter and the Kings in 2012 and by Bowman and the Hawks in 2013…this history will never be changed,because evidence exists.A large part of the NHSs development evolved right here on ON as many here know.The NHS oppositionally engaged stats based perspectives from day one , that is a history consistantly projected.

            As with anything Officer Frank Murphy…there is nothing new under the sun….it not the ingredients its how and in what order and when you put them together which makes the dish….the apples are ALL IN THE APPLICATION .

            You listed some excellent ingredients , I would like to see you build a Tactical Dynamic Template as per NHS directions and apply these ingredients to something impactfull,pick any Oiler and do a work-up or template on what he is doing now concerning one single ingredient using Intuitive Dynamic Analysis then audit him based on this template ,then using the same single potential ingredient you will apply IDM to come up with at least 3 dynamic applications/adjustments related to HOW HE NOW EXECUTES WITHIN T-Mac Processes specificlly where he can MAKE TACTICAL CHANGES and implement your data to upsell his current impacts.

            I would suggest you for fun use the process to add 6 inches to Yakupovs stick to show how well IDA and IDM work.But is up to you,there are so many possibilities.

            Just one ingredient,
            any player, use IDA and IDM to break him down then build 3 upsell options which do not require him to change how he executes within T-Mac Processes but still allow him to make impactfull improvements to his results.

            Advanced stats con-jobs are trying to tell people that the results of the dynamic actions on the ice as recorded by their numbers “should” give them a perfect popcorn trail they can simply show NHL Teams how to follow back to positive causalitys….its a sham…because every game is 100% different and the Coaches eyes and minds will ALWAYS BE FASTER AND MORE ANTICIPATORY BY PROXY.So all injecting stats based inputs will do is SLOW DOWN AND DISCONNECT the Head Coaches biggest strengths his Intuition and gut instinct.

            No stats based process “advanced” or not will ever come close to the execution speeds and accuracy of the NHS which is 100% based on Intuition and and Dynamic reality and rejects ALL stats inputs.

            Coaches dont really believe in Corsi.Those were Adams lead-off words.You may parse individual and team applications seperately but you really cant have one without the other…..the principal either applies to both or it applies to neither.IMHO it applies to neither in any functional progressive anticipatory manner.

            The general idea Officer Frank Murphy as I am quite sure you already know is to instill another level of confidence in your players,you cannot fool them,they IMMEDIATLY know what works and what doesnt.This is an elite level of results based trust which an optimal System NEVER removes from a players tool box…ever.If you begin with equipment adjustments like NAS did with the Oilers in 2007-08-09 many years ago you begin to build trust in small doses,if you are NEVER OFF THE MARK,you build trust exponentially faster.Once players trust your data they project positive intentions when they execute for you at all times,the NHS uses IDA and IDM to build the tactical dynamic templates {TDT} which guide small equipment changes AND also to build PROCESS adjustments and this level of familiarity of philosophy and concept supports expedited levels of trust being built between the Players and the data source.Right now T-Mac is applying this exact concept on several levels and has been consistantly doing so since the beginning of the season.

            There as some INCREDIBLE APPLICATIONS FOR THE PROCESSES USED TO BUILD THE CORSI MYTH….but the advanced stats magicians do not have the acumen to even identify them…and I will never do it online for them.

            Maybe Adam wants to simply join with the NHS so these never-before seen applications can be realised and given to the game of hockey….he will become a Pioneer following Pat Quinn,Tom Renney,Sutter,Ralph Krueger,Scotty Bowman,Burke and many others now down the most cutting edge progressive evolutionary path of change the NHL has seen in several decades.Yes,there is EVIDENCE to support every claim made.Toss in a direct connection to a CHAMPIONSHIP in another Pro Sport and Adam has every reason to be seriously interested.

            Its always nice to see ON sharing interviews with people of Adam Oatses reputation and legacy…2003 made him Alumni.It would be nice to see Adam Oates blend his lifetime of stats based hockey acumen with the NHSs decade of Intuitive Excellence and in the process disenfranchise every single advanced stats concept out there,and replace them with something real and tangible.Adam should know that a lot of these advanced stats ideas do have core values which their creators do not identify or percieve……we could hi-jack every single bit of work the entire advnced stats industry has done and ABSOLUTELY RE-WRITE every bit of data…completely removing the stats and numerical reliance.I have some real plans for completing and utilising the discombobulated mess that Corgi turned into…we are gonna finish what the stats boys began.I have been waiting for many years….lol….maybe Adam will be honest and aknowledge and embrace the NHS where others failed to do so….maybe he is the H-O-N-E-S-T Oiler that Moma2 swore would be needed a Decade ago to pull Excaliber out of the Stone the Oilers forced its creator to sink it into?His timing is right on the money,but are his intentions at heart fair or furtive?

            Thank you Gregor for taking the time to bring us all right into Adam Oatses Wheelhouse,a place we never could have gone without all of your genuine had work.

            What if the Oilers could in one fell swoop capture BOTH Adam Oats and NAS and add them to their equation?With the support of AEG and Katz personally the ceiling is non-existant in terms of potential Industry Driving impacts being projected from Edmonton once again rivalling the Dynasty Teams Industry Impacts.

          • .

            While the obvious choice would be to extend Yakupov’s stick 6 inches, that would be a total sham. With that kind of stick length increase would ruin Yakupov’s dynamic as a lethal shooter. Yakupov doesn’t need a harder shot, he just needs the space and opportunity to take the shot.

            To compensate for this, we make small adjustments in how Yakupov grips the stick higher with his right hand, switch to black tape for his blade and slight posture change in stride to extend the stick. This increase perceived stick length would give Yak extra room against defenders during zone entry to take his lethal shot.

            As for positional play, Yak is most successful as a the hook/cross of a 1-2 jab-hook/cross combination. The jab is best left to McDavid for zone entry. He is best sneaking into the blind spots of defenders then immediately find opening to unleash the one-timer. Any system that keeps Yakupov locked into a position will restrict his stealth, he must be allowed to roam freely when on the offensive.

            This way Yakupov’s tookit is preserved.

          • @Nail Yakupov….disclaimer…JAFO does not believe you should change anything this is a classroom assignment for Officer Frank Murphy only.The principls may be familiar and may seem to pply but none of these adjustments are considered needed or curative at the moment your game is bang on…so this is just an nhs excercise for a quick learning pupil.

            @ Officer Frank Murphy…we can work with this.

            You picked Nails stick…cool… and you took it up a few notches beyond the simplicity adding 6 inches,extra marks for that no doubt.

            Gripping higher with his right hand creating the illusion of a longer shaft with a larger than real-life potential incoming reach..check…switch to black tape for his blade better camoflaging the puck with his deft stickhandling skills and making his shot look BIGGER COMING in than it is instead of smaller as it does coming off a white background slightly altering the Goalies cerebral transition focal point as he times the puck coming off of the stick , forcing him into a short blonde type of re-focus or cerebral-squint before his synapses begin the firing sequence to react to how he is visually tracking……check…slight tactical N/S extension of his stride to extend the visual impact of the stick not only allowing him to demand more room but also allowing him to cock his off leg and load up on his slightly out of synch next stride akin to popping out of the blocks when you sprint ,catching the opposition a blonde one flatfooted every time{dont forget to synch the dominant leg on those strides with the right hand stick adjustment and its transition points}….check.

            The good news is good job.

            Now the other good news , Nail has always paid close attention as per the NHS to making tactical changes to these subtle areas of his game and has his own career-long chronology of tiny tweaks to nearly every area of his game as do many Oilers.Nail is ON TRACK with his own tactical management of these small details and should keep doing exactly as he is doing,maybe think about researching the dyes in those energy looking drinks he likes so much….theres a clear health and safety issue rearing its ugly head for everyone….just google it man,it would be negligent to put Players at risk for long term health concerns related to the artificial coloring in hydration options given to them by the team….when color is an option in itself and not required ,the Union should look into this issue ASAP,it is derelict not to consider current online consumer feedback.How long have some of these guys been guzzeling these artificially colored drinks down at an above average rate as PART OF THEIR JOB DESCRIPTION because re-hydrating is a clear step in the anerobic nature of a hockey players accepted “normal” work process or job duties.

            SO WE DO NOT WANT HIM TO MAKE ANY OF THESE ADJUSTMENTS RIGHT NOW …BECAUSE NONE ARE REQUIRED …IF IT AINT BROKE DONT TRY TO FIX IT….just switch to natural fruit juice colorings only when you re-hydrate and rotate the flavors to keep it fresh and exciting and make sure you have no allergies…..lol….and get your Union rep to put together some current data on what looks to be artificial colored dyes in those rehydration options you are feeding those men 1000s of times a year for multiple years…MMMmm.

            Ok I see how you wish to optimise Nails natural surfce srengths…ok…but if we dig deeper as we have done with ll of the Core over the years we find that only a layer or two down Nails Onions flavor changes and he becomes an elite passer every bit as much as he is a shooter….and his life-long strength is his shiftiness be it darting or slicing which is a focus he has recently evolved wonderfully,so while yes we do like to see McDavidsky penerating the zone with speed as the Playactions DRIVER we wish him to surrender playaction management once in or nearly in the zone and make a quick pass to Nail 40% of the time and allow Nail to become the CATALYST of the playaction….McDavidsky can eat up 50% of the possesions being both Catalyst AND Driver of the playaction as Hall can so effectively do….but to opimise the entire lines skillsets he has to share control of playaction management more than Taylor has done in the past and he has to take more of his now smaller share of Driver/Catalyst full control options right to the net as is his trademark…this means to keep him safe from early anticiptory CRUSHES he has to make his linemates become deadly weapons and execute a high % of terminal passes which result in goals from his share of playaction Driver opportunitys.There are a lot more layers to this particular onion than it seems at first glance huh?LOL>

          • .

            Intuition says the six inch adjustment to Yak’s stick was just a test. I took the liberty to pick Yakupov because I believe he was unfairly treated during the Eakins reign. Krueger optimized Nail’s playing style the most.

            Elite passing is only half of the picture. The recipient of the pass must also be elite. Take the case of Yakupov and Roy in the latter half of the 2014-2015 season. If you look how Derek Roy scored his goals, he catalyzed them off of rebounds from skates, goalies or boards within 10 feet of the goalie. Roy’s inherent diminutive size did not fit the template of the 6 foot 2 power forward, but as a small forward Roy was quick and nimble.

            Big towering defenders may have the wingspan to block passing and shooting lanes, but their greatest weakness will be standing still with the puck is in their skates. This is like the chicken wing for big defenders.

            Good thing Yak will have McDavidsky to read his pass.

    • A-Mc

      Agreed.

      Everyone will be better off when we can accurately tell who has the puck and for how long and in which area of the ice. Once those bits of information are nailed down (Either through sensors or video recognition/interpretation software) Analytics will take a huge step forward.

    • MorningOwl

      That’s literally the first thing them nerds set out to prove. You can use a watch to time how often a team has the puck and it ends up being the same as using Corsi. Lesson = let the NHL employees do the work. That way we have more time to drink beer and eat pizza!!

  • .

    To paraphrase Mark Twain paraphrasing Disraeli: I guess there are lies, damned lies, statistics, and analytics. A little analytics can be a dangerous thing; they’re kind of like Shakespeare or the Bible in that you can get them to say almost anything, depending on how you slice ’em.

    Without meaning to open a can of worms on the player, Oates’ example made me think of Taylor Hall. You can’t argue with the man’s passion for the game or his raw talent, speed and certain skills with the puck, but I would like to know what his stats look like with respect to how the puck leaves his possession, whether that’s a completed pass, a shot, loss of possession or give away.

    What frustrates me with Hall (compared to, say, Draisaitl or Nuge), is that he often seems to have trouble making the best play with the puck and too often (for me) he attempts a shot on net that’s either a low % play or that gives the puck back to the opposition–much like what Oates describes. Obviously he’s not doing this with every shot, but for my eyes too many of his possessions fall into this category.

    I’m not sure if this is a dimension of his game that’s still to come or if it’s never going to come. I’d have said the same thing about Kessel up until about 2011-12, but he’s changed his game a lot in this regard. I’d love to see Hall make a similar adjustment.

    • BDH

      I wonder what role maturity plays.

      His first few seasons, you’d see him go off on a solo effort. I’m sure that worked in juniors, but NHL defencemen are too good for that to be anything but a low percentage play.

      But you don’t see him try those solo efforts very often, and I think part of it is deferring to the system and to his linemates. Drai carries the puck into the zone much more often, for example.

  • The Goalie 1976

    Thankfully we don’t have a coach (Eakins) anymore who was coaching to zoom the corsi stats. I remember an interview with Eberle when he said they were told to shoot from anywhere, to increase their corsi stats.

    Players shouldn’t ever be thinking about their corsi. McLennan has then focusing on systems, scoring chances, and possession.

    Corsi is widely believed to equal possession, but it’s so flawed nobody should even be using it.

    • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

      Not that McLennan uses Corsi or even believes in it, but point of fact.

      His teams shoot!! They players shoot and they shoot a lot.

      He mentions this often.

      Corsi is a shot matrix and not so much possession.

      • Jason Gregor

        Oilers are 21st in Shots on goal/game at 28.8

        Yes, he does want them to shoot, but he also wants them to shoot with strategy. He likes shots from corners if on the ice and it will force goalie to kick out rebound. Does not like bad-angle shots that goalie can hold on to and not give out rebounds.

        They are in bottom 1/3 in shots/game because they still don’t have enough skill to hold onto the puck, or take it away from the opposition when they have it.

        Last year the Oilers averaged 28.4 shots/game. So they are up 0.4 shots/game this year.

      • I dont copy and past my comments in every article,and you very well know it.Its called consistancy of perspective and it is something Gregor lacks in this article and you just may be lacking it as well.

        As I stated Corsi is imaginary,it is a con-job created online by a small group of like minded people,it is not tangible or real it is a myth.

        Corsi is a witches-brew of BS , it takes basic traditional stats and dances them around then says a majic word like Corgi …. and wha -la …BS is created….

        Corsi is in no way reflective of possesion ,it is rearrangement of traditional stats.It in no way reflects explains or contributes to the CAUSALITY of possesion which is what the Corsi-Con-Men have been trying to sell to everyone for years….lol.

        I happen to have a friend who has a friend on the inside who owes me a favor I have been saving for 7 years,Gregor just busted out one of my high end assets…..lol……I am going to have a chat with Adam and set him straight about the little advanced stats cartel/cabal.
        Next time you quote Adam you will be singing a different tune…bet you Gypsy Dollar on it.Y’all are about to find out how real this has gotten.Gregors first up to bat.

  • .

    I bet Hall has a great Corsi. He comes over the blue line and fires a shot at the goalie which 99% of the time he does not score.

    He adds to his Corsi but not a serious scoring chance. Many times it results in a faceoff and the other coach changes lines and Hall is pulled off the ice.

    Other times he will get over the blue line, create havoc and the puck gets passed a few times with no shot towards the net but that play was more dangerous.

  • MorningOwl

    The idea that analytics should have remained internal is ludicrous.

    You weren’t fighting a war Oates.

    Analytics lead to speculation and discussion. Discussion generates interest and interest generates money. The NHL likes money a lot. To believe that there should be secret numbers only known by NHL people is really really stupid.

    Oates knows his stuff obviously but this is another in a long list of examples of NHL people not respecting their fans. “Why can’t they just come to the rink buy a ticket pay for some merchandise and call me a genius for telling a player to cut an inch off his stick?”

  • Jason Gregor

    “One thing I don’t like personally is when a guy is coming down the ice and gets it to the right winger for example, the winger skates in and he’s taking wrister into the goalie. Okay, it’s a shot on net, but I think that shot is awful. There’s not a goalie in this world that’s letting that in, or else he’s getting demoted.”

    This is the push behind tracking quality of shots stats, as well as some advanced goalie analytics.

    Dubnyk is a prime example of this. If you evaluated the shots he saw as an Oiler and contrasted it with the shots he saw as a Wild last season, then it’s fairly easy to explain why he performed so badly as an Oiler and why he performed so well as a Wild.

    It’s also useful for analyzing the Oilers play or why some teams like the Coyotes have taken a leap.

    Great interview Gregor.

  • .

    Great article and interview!! I’m a minor hockey Coach and have developed an excel program to track everything from: goals against, goals for, shots against, shots for, what goals and assists players got, and I keep track of every game day lineup from the start of the year.

    I use the data to help form my game lineup plans, and have found this to be successful, while still allowing me to use my gut depending on what other circumstances were happening before or during a game. Go stats go!!

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    Also, the Oilers HAVE to be using some sort of aynalitcs.

    There has to be something telling the Oilers that playing Schultz is bringing positive results somewhere.

    Everything Oates mentioned is exactly what we see in Schultz and not so much based on stats, poor give aways, poor passing, not hard on the puck or hard on the players, terrible battling for position.

    The Oilers see something and there has to be a stats that’s very positive for this player to be continue getting premium ice.

    • Jay (not J)

      I think that Schultz is analogous to Oats’ player on a seven year contract. Management has a vested interest and thus the kid plays. How much easier a ride it could have been in Edmonton if the Oilers could somehow hide the numbers which in a different scenario, would have him back in the AHL. I though that whole passage applied to Schultz, especially the part about keeping advanced stats privately, though that might not have been Oats’ intention.

  • .

    Gregor,

    I’d like to hear Oates view on Chicago’s possession game. I view them as a general exception to the dump-and-race game that you see so often now.

    It’s not that they don’t ever use it, but they’re as likely to employ a variety of breakout patterns that generally privilege possession through tape-to-tape passing. I think they have done this better than anybody at least since 2010, and it’s what contributes to their speed: the puck does the work.

    Among the greatest frustrations I have watching the Oilers is the number of times that break out plays are frustrated simply by bad passes that cause the receiver to lose time and space, even when they’re not tightly covered.

    • Jason Gregor

      They are one of our talking points for tomorrow. They have the skill to possess it, but yes we will discuss dump and chase. I think too often it is giving up possession.

      I will ask him about culture as well. How much or little does that impact their success.

      • .

        I completely agree.

        I’d also include Hjalmarsson in the group with Keith and Seabrook–who take up essentially 80-90 minutes of D time combined–so, they got that goin’ for them.

        Keith is the best D man in the league (my own personal) and a lot of what I like about him when it comes to break-outs is the read of the field in front of him that he takes. He really is a QB back there reading receivers within two steamboats and able to throw anything from the stretch pass to the short lateral instantly–and right on the tape.

        On the other hand virtually every Blackhawk forward is able to take and make the next pass. I’d go so far as to say that when the D’s play is a short feed to the forward near the point, that player is still able to make the outlet into the neutral zone as well as Chicago’s top 3 D.

  • notarealdoctor

    Data should be private? That’s the kind of attitude that has left hockey way behind baseball,football and even basketball in public perception. Injury data, analytics data – the media and the public should be flooded with it, by the league and by the teams. The more information that’s out there, the more the public will be talking about it – and betting on it, which is where the real drivers are for “major league” sports, of which the NHL is sadly not one.

    Oates seems more concerned with competitive advantage than with the health of the sport.

    • MorningOwl

      “Oates seems more concerned with competitive advantage than with the health of the sport.”

      well, let’s see, he was speaking as a coach… so, um, ya, it is only normal that he is concerned about competitive advantage. that’s the role of the coach.

      let the high paid NHL execs and team Presidents worry about the overall health of th4e sport.

      I really enjoyed the view and perspective of the coach this was awesome! this is one of the perspectives we see the least, because the coaches are often wise enough to keep their mouths shut. well done!

  • BDH

    You can control corsi or fenwick for o-zone vs d-zone starts. Or just have those stats next to or adjacent to corsi or fenwick stats in order to put the players usage into proper context.

  • camdog

    I would hope that a coach would not need advanced stats, or really ant stats to tell him how the players are doing. Does a coach really need to look at the goalies save% at the end on the game to know how he played. Did Kruger have to look at the games stats to know Gagner has a good night when he got his 8 points?

    Stats, advanced or otherwise, are more useful to understand the opposition. The Oil are going to play the CBJ just after the break and haven’t seen them for about a year. I’m pretty sure they will be checking stats, even if its stats as simple as who is getting the most ice time or who is their leading scorer to help then plan for their game. When assessing acquiring a player in a trade stats based on a large sample size can be very useful. Usually when a player is being considered in a trade we here about so and so’s scouts watching a team for a handful of games. But we all know a handful of games might be misleading. I mean the Hawks should have swapped Kane for Gagner after the 8 point night if all they ever knew about Gagner was that one game.

    Stats are a tool like anything other tool. They can be useful when used properly but are not a cure all or end all.

  • Jay (not J)

    When adam oates was playing for the oilers in 2003, I was working at the save on foods just down the road on 82street. His total came to $15.75. He gave me a 20 dollar bill and a quarter and I immediately asked him for another 50 cents because I would have to give the quarter right back to him if he didnt. He was adamant (oh the puns!) that I give him back 5 dollars as his change. After a couple seconds he kinda realized on his own that he dun goofed, apologized and took back his quarter with his change.

  • .

    I think sometimes miss the point that “analytics” are a magical idea or voodoo. The so called analytics are just statistical facts that happened over the course of a game. For example when Yakupove has a 60% corsi, out of all the shots that were taken at each net while he was on the ice, he had a 60% share of the total. That is a fact. The thinking goes that if he does that more often than not, that is out-shooting his opponents,he will get more goals and be more successful. I dont think any coach in the world would say, “no we don’t want yak getting a 60% share of the shots every game.”

    So you take this information, and you say ok: Yak outshot his opponents in 9 out of 10 games, but hes not scoring, but hes still getting the higher share of shots, so over the course of a 82 game season, you would think he would start outscoring his oppoenents too because its simple more shots = more goals. Ask Taylor Hall. Volume shooting is a real thing. Its simple, nothing crazy about these ideas they are just stating fact. You can say you dont believe in analytics but your trying to tell me you wouldn’t want your players out shooting their opponents every night if they could? Its just simple logic. More shots = more goals.

    • AJ88

      Yes. Then the crappy shot thing comes into play. As Oates mentioned, many shots actually end up being more like giveaways.

      So instead you take this Yak and 9 out of 10 out shooting the opponents but not scoring goals – watch him play. You might even complement it with the Staples Scoring Chances information.

      Maybe he’s shooting from bad angles. Maybe he’s got a terrible shot. Maybe the goalies just happen to make fantastic saves when he shoots (but then it probably goes back to the terrible shot thing).

      Analytics, I don’t get into but they have their place. They can help point you in the right direction.

    • Gadgets

      I digress,you just completely explained Eakins shooting for corgi focus.

      More shots=more goals….this is a statisticlly catalysed perspective or way to look at it.

      Volume shooting is a poor option….however Taylor Hall chose just increase his volume in a very contolled 2ndary way based on some good advice…4 per game minimum…and he has achieved this goal easily.

      The NHS way to view this same dynamic is as such…..fully converted possesions = goals.

      The idea is to strive for excellence of execution on every core value level which cannot be matched by any stats based process…ever.

      An NHS catalysed offense generally has a teamwide shooting % over 20%.With specific players consistantly at 35%+.

      In a possesion/transition System which is being Managed using IDA and IDM the focus is on scoring on every single puck possesion ASAP at the highest speeds suitable for the moment with anerobic gear changes.

      The NHS was designed to BREAK ALL DYNASTY RECORDS primarily the single season goals for record and by Proxy lay the Dynasty history to waste in THIS ERA.

      I challenge you to ask Taylor Hall why he began shooting for specific minimum numbers over the entire season {4/gm}….if its off the record I bet you he says he listened to Moma2/NewAgeSys and his adjustment will chronologiclly show satistical patterning absolutely matching the data projection chronology of NASs posts by date.Go find him having a coffee one day the players are our neighbors not just entertainers I see Oilers all the time,if you are interested in where players really look for extra help just ask them…lol.

      What you do not know is that there was a lot more in the NHS posts to hallsy than simply volume shooting – for Hallsy it was simply adding another layer to his personal onion to keep pushing himself on a personal level ,in fact Taylor DOES NOT WORK HIS GAME AROUND VOLUME SHOOTING because he is a multi-dimensional player….if we was focusing primarily on volume he would be averaging 7+ shots per game, IMHO he will soon put up 10 shots to prove to himself he can still push his own ceiling up higher…sometimes he has to stretch those limits its in his nature.

      I encourage everyone to go to wikipedia and look at the List of Edmonton Oiler Records…look at dates from 2009 to the present and see how many times those records were challenged and broken since 2009 during what were “suppossedly” the Oilers darkest hours?Pay special attention to the 2012-13 period.Then ask yourself how this Core with Leon and McDavidsky SHOULD BE PLAYING,then clearly know it was the NHS pushing those statistical patterns,Moma2/NewAgeSys/NAS…and know the Oilers days of hardballing and the advanced stats groupies days of plaguerising are over.

      The NHS has over 20 of those records targeted right now,we won count the ones Ghostbusted since 2009 till today.

      Also for the record note how often Mr. Eberles name pops out at you.

      This is all you ever need in terms of statistical information as an NHL team.These are the only numbers which count,these are the ones which need to be bested to keep everyone pointed in the right direction,for nearly 2 decades Oilers have been looking down not up,winners LOOK UP and competitors look down.

  • '68 Fire Chicken

    I tend to agree with BDH. He used the word sensitive. But I’m tired of how Gregor treats his listeners and readers. He speaks down to people while putting words in their mouth. The way he speaks to a guest like Ray Ferrero is a lot different than when he addresses comments, texts or calls. I don’t turn his show on because of this and I love sports radio.

    • .

      If you don’t listen how do you know how he talks to Ferraro or others? I never saw him put any words in whiny BDH hand. BDH wrote them. Sorry dude, you come across as a needless complainer who fabricates the truth. You obviously listen to Gregor or you wouldn’t know how he treats anyone.

    • Gadgets

      This all day long. Every time some one disagrees with Gregor, no matter how small, he immediately gets his back up and acts like his knowledge should never be questioned.

      • '68 Fire Chicken

        I agree with you agreeing with Blair.

        Gregor is a president of the Hall’s Groupies Club, so it is no surprise him and they act the way they do. They put you down and act you, your family, and anything they can think of for not seeing what they want to see.

        • '68 Fire Chicken

          Wow. BDH is the aggressor here. Gregor defended himself quite tactfully.

          As BDH rants about english he misses a typo. He lost the whole petty argument right there. Before you go off about grammar make damn sure yours is bullet proof. Way to fail BDH.

          And so what if Gregor had opinions? Are you not mature enough to have people disagree with you? Gregor seems to handle that fine without getting personal as you imply.

          BTW, GJ referencing proof of Gregor attacking people. Maybe a source to said attacks instead of a lame groupie comment would work better next time….

          • camdog

            @ 68 Fire Chicken….. no one reads your lap-dog mini-trolls……stay out of it….you are flaming out and defending the aggressor here,you little gangsta….LOL….Gregor is a bully sometimes and doesnt handle online conflict well ,leave it alone,the guy has a right to project a little good with the bad online like we all do,someone popped one of my posts ,all good , but he sure doesnt need a devils advocate piping up ruining the flow of the thread,no ones saying he is the Dark Father for goodness sakes,why do you have to go all Molly Pitcher on us huh?Are you not mature enough to keep you nose out of it when other people disagree?You forced me by proxy of your flaming to make this comment so look what your flaming trollish behaviour does to everyones enjoyment of the normally friendly ON landscape.

            I would rather have you stretch yourself a little and type up 200-3oo-400 words with any kind of even vaguely topic or hockey related info that isnt flaming anyone or trolling the thread. Just my two-cents there little-bird.Kinda tired of your schtick 69 Fire Chicken.

    • Gadgets

      I’ve experienced this and agree wholeheartedly. Makes my skin crawl when I see him blow off opinions that differ from his own. Glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed this!

    • Seanaconda

      So apparently you have to razzle dazzle to be elite. Hall uses what he has and PRODUCES. I take hall over a zherdev or hemsky that will blow our minds once in a while

    • WHH

      Everytime I think of Corsi I immediately think of how Hall manages his game. Eakins and Hall are like two peas in a pod, everything Hall does in a shift is to increase his Corsi and have his linemates do most of the heavy lifting.

      It’s hardly surprising his team-mates are tired of it. Hemsky and others made comments on the way out and I have spoken with two players that refused to come here because of certain personalities in the locker room.

        • .

          You know the thing that stands out about the “world cup” three years ago was Hall being benched because the coach felt Hall wasn’t playing the “right way”.

          The next year Hall, Ebs and Nuge all declare they have lingering injuries and won’t be attending the “world cup”. They wanted to get healthy and come into camp in top condition.

          So last year Hall and Ebs play for the cooach that the Oilers are pursuing and get to audition on the top line centered by Crosby. Neither one of them play the right way.

          Hall’s now in his 6th year and plays pretty much the same as he did in Jr. Nothing has really changed, he screams at team-mates, cheats on offense every shift, pouts, relys on line-mates to do most of the heavy lifting and plays on the defensive side of the puck like Gagner.

          Trade him for a D-man and watch this team start playing like a team……..

  • camdog

    If you want to make an accurate interpretation of a play/game you need to be able to view the entire ice surface with one camera shot from up top. You can than analyse every play/player based on good or bad play and then further differentiate by good offensive/defensive play and on and on. I am sure some/most teams do this, however their results wouldn’t be released to the public.